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tv   With Friends Like These  MSNBC  January 28, 2012 10:00am-11:00am PST

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tim was a great guy. he actually had a passion in life. he wanted to play drums. >> tim wicks was pursuing his dream, driving up to canada for a gig with a new band. he never made it. tim's dream died on that trip. police wondered if tim was dead too. >> we can't prove it. we don't have a body. we don't know. >> when a gruesome discovery turned up on the side of the road, tim's fate was sealed. but exactly what happened and why remained a mystery. >> i was told that when the good was found, both the head and
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hands had been removed. >> why would someone commit a vicious crime against such an easy-going, genuine guy? >> he told me that he gets tim up to canada, no one will ever miss him, and i guess he just wanted him out of the country. >> a police dragnet tightened around tim's friend, dennis gaede, a man police suspected of taking not only tim's life, but his identity. >> it's frustrating for us, it's frustrating for the family. it's frustrating for law enforcement. >> in this hour "with friends like these." it was a straightforward and unadorned life. dependable. predictable as a two-fisted backbeat. the kind of life rarely noticed, until it's gone. >> i saw a teletype from michigan that they have an unidentified torso that they located, john doe.
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>> january 2002, a new year and a body with no name. >> they also located a head on the wisconsin side of the border. >> the news gave kent schoonover, the only detective in the tiny wisconsin police department, a sinking feeling. for days he'd been search ing for two men who shared the same name. schoonover had a hunch. one of them just turned up. it all started with a routine missing persons report in suburban milwaukee. from friends of a local musician who hadn't been heard from in weeks. >> my first impression is that we don't have a case. an adult citizen, wisconsin, has a right to disappear, if they want. >> the missing man was named timothy wicks. >> 48 years old. >> yeah. he
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he can be missing he wants to be missing. there was no indication there was anything wrong. >> timothy wicks' family and friends are persistent. >> yes. >> a personable jazz drummer. >> tim was a great guy. he actually had a passion in life. he wanted to play drum ares, and he was real good at it. >> he always loved music and always was in a band, and when my parents sent him to berkeley school of music, he -- that was just his dream come true. >> music was his life. but it was not his livelihood. at 48, tim wicks paid the rent by painting houses. it was honest, uncomplicated labor, that seemed to fit tim's "what you see is what you get" personality. >> he was doing jobs either on his own or working with painting companies, and a lot of his friends mostly came through the music business. >> he had his close circle of friends, and he often talked about his friends and he cherished them. >> in fact, tim wicks was as devoted to his friends as he was to his music. >> he would take everyone's word
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as face value. >> so in early 2001 when one of his new friends told wicks he knew of a good-paying gig playing drums in canada, he was all ears. >> we went out one night and tim mentioned to me that he had a possible opportunity to go up to canada and play at a club for a good rate of pay. >> tim didn't mention it again for months. but then out of the blue just before christmas 2001, tim wicks told his family and friends he was going to take one last shot at being a professional musician. >> i knew that all he ever really wanted to do in life was play music for a living as opposed to painting, so i figured he, you know, might as well give it a shot.
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and i thought, well, what the heck, the worst that can happen is if it doesn't work out for him, he can always come back. >> on the day after christmas, tim wicks loaded up his drums and headed north toward canada where he said an accountant friend set him up with a dream job. >> tim was very excited. like i said before, his passion was drums. that's what he lived for. >> as schoonover listened to his friends talk about wicks, he saw the concern in their faces. they painted a picture of a rather innocent, trusting man who wouldn't just go off and not write or call. so the detective agreed to take the case. >> maybe we can find tim, put him in touch with his friends, put them at ease, we'll invest a little effort to do that. >> where do you start? >> we went over to his apartment building. we spoke with the apartment manager, and tim left a note with her, told her that he wu going to canada and that he would contact her in a few weeks
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to let her know what he was going do with the apartment, and he left a phone number with her saying if you need me for some reason, here's a phone number. >> though the cell phone number was eventually traced to fargo, north dakota, it did not lead to tim wicks. but when schoonover called the fargo police department he got a lucky break. tim wicks was a name they already knew, same birthday, same social security number, except in fargo, north dakota, timothy wicks was not known for his drumming. >> i told detective schoonover that mr. wicks was a suspect in an embezzlement case i was currently working on and that later that afternoon i had an interview with him at the police station. >> you may be solving a missing person's case this afternoon? >> that's what i thought. >> could it be the easy-going drummer family and friends in the milwaukee area describe had an alter ego and was now passing himself off as an accountant in fargo? true, tim wicks run his own painting business and kept his own books but an accountant, embezzler? it didn't add up. >> you have scheduled an appointment for timothy wicks. >> yes.
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>> he's to show up at 1:00. >> correct. >> what happens at 1:00? >> nothing. he didn't show up. coming up -- the fargo businessman who hired tim wicks to be his accountant offers a tantalizing clue. >> i took him out one night to a club where they had a jam night going on and tim got up and played. he could keep a beat, i guess. [ male announcer ] meet lafayette. we asked him to be part of an experiment to prove that febreze air effects can eliminate tough cooking odors. [ moderator ] take a deep breath and then tell me what you smell. wow. it takes you kinda to like an island. like a paradise. [ sniffs ] vanilla. [ sniffs ] i smell caramel, like a caramel candy. [ moderator ] go ahead and take your blindfold off. ah man. ♪ [ laughs ] wow man! [ laughs ] [ male announcer ] eliminate tough odors with febreze air effects so you can breathe happy guaranteed. ♪
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for weeks, friends and family in milwaukee have been worried about tim wicks, an easy-going house painter and part-time drummer. wicks had not been heard from since he left town for a gig in canada, just after christmas 2001. now, detectives in north dakota and wisconsin are hot on his trail and think he may have changed careers and become an accountant in fargo. >> he seemed to know everything that we needed him to do as far as our business was concerned. >> drummer timothy wicks never made it to his gig in a canadian jazz club.
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these men say they hired wicks through a placement service to works an accountant for their business in fargo. >> i liked him. he was very personable guy. >> jeff paridon and gene maxwell owned compressed air technologies. at first he did well in his job. he socialized outside of work and even went hunting with his boss. >> he talked more about his outdoorsman past that he had had some -- wound up in the upper u.p., in a cabin, i believe. >> the upper peninsula of michigan. >> correct. >> what about guns? >> he stated he was a collector of guns and that he was very fascinated with them. >> they say he also mentioned that he was a drummer. >> i took him out one night to a club where they had a jam night going on, and tim got up and played, not as good as what he thought he was, but he -- he could keep a beat, i guess. >> but then trouble.
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>> what was the first sign that something was off? >> like a $20 petty cash check, where did it go? where are the receipts? just -- just some real minor things. >> how did he react? >> yeah, not a problem. no problem at all. >> a week later he didn't have all of the answers, so he was given a little more time until just after the christmas holidays 2001. but once christmas was over and it was time to come back to work, tim wicks was a no-show. >> i thought something might have happened. i was concerned for him. >> so he asked the sheriff's department to check on wicks in gardner, north dakota. >> they entered the house and said, no, sorry, there's no one in the house, so we don't know where he is. that's when we began calling. >> do you reach him on the telephone? >> eventually, yes. he says he's in mexico. >> mexico? >> yes. >> he told us they were on the
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bus and it would take several days to get home. >> the story did not sit well with the bosses. >> the fact that he said that he had been in tijuana, that they were coming home through texas and i know enough about geography to know that tijuana's not bordering texas, it borders to california, but then the next time i talked to him, he was in ohio supposedly. >> so either his geography's off or he's not telling the truth. >> exactly. >> when wicks finally did show up for work two weeks late the bosses were not amused. >> first of all, we were -- told him how -- how disappointed we were that he took an extended holiday without letting us know, kind of left us hanging. also mentioned that i did need some answers to some of the questions that i had. i tried not to let him know we found more discrepancies by this point. $2,000 here, $1,500 there. things -- checks written out to petty cash. >> i'm thinking it's an awful lot there's $4,000 check written to petty cash when we don't keep
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a petty check account. with some investigating by gene and myself, we found that they were not sent to that company. they were, indeed, deposited to an account belonging to tim wicks. >> what are you thinking of tim wicks now? >> i'm thinking he took us for a ride. >> not only that it turns out wicks had begin himself health insurance and a christmas bonus he was not entitled to. that was when the bosses decided to fight back with a camera. >> i said, by the way, we're doing an employee bulletin board i'd like to take your picture. and without waiting for a response from him, i pulled a boy la road out from under the desk and took his picture. >> how did he react? >> he smiled. he smiled for it. that might go to show the arrogance of the man. >> but he wouldn't be smiling for long because that photo will become a key part of tammy
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lynx's criminal investigation into the embezzlement allegations. remember her phone call from detectives schoonover in milwaukee? well, just before he hung up the phone, he asked lynx one more question, which proved to be critical. >> so i asked her what did timothy wicks look like. she described her tim wicks over 6', over 300 pounds, and tim wicks is smaller than you are. there's a big difference. and it was very obvious. now we're looking at i didn't theft. and this is not a good sign for tim wicks? >> no. it's not. coming up -- if the man working in fargo wasn't timothy wicks, who was he? progresso. it fits! fantastic! [ man ] pro-gresso they fit! okay-y... okay??? i've been eating progresso and now my favorite old jeans...fit. okay is there a woman i can talk to? [ male announcer ] progresso. 40 soups 100 calories or less.
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when milwaukee drummer timothy wicks left town for a gig in canada, he told friends he was pursuing a dream. investigators fear that dream may have turned into a nightmare. tim wicks is missing, and another man in fargo, north dakota, is pretending to be wicks. >> got a driver's license from north dakota, got a job, bought a house, got health insurance. he was timothy wicks and he had been going on for a few months.
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>> it turns out the man impersonating timothy wick was someone police knew very well. his real name was dennis gaede. >> so the big question is, where is timothy wicks and what happened to him? >> we don't know where to go. so we figure what we need to do is we got to find dennis. >> at this point, dennis gaede, posing as tim wicks, was scheduled to be questioned by fargo detective tammy lynx about allegations of stealing from his employers. >> well, he doesn't show up for the interview. we're really shocked by that. >> back in wisconsin detective schoonover wasn't shocked because, in a short amount of time, he'd already learned a lot about dennis gaede. none of it good. >> we found his ex-wife, talked to her. we found his mother, talked to her. everybody we talked to basically
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painted the same picture, he's a con man. >> he's very confident, very well-spoken. >> gina barton is a reporter for "the milwaukee journal sentinel" who's written a book about dennis gaede and tim wicks called "fatal identity." she says gaede's career started in 1987 as a young man when he owned a towing business in milwaukee and bought stolen truck parts. gaede agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges and become a police informant. >> he hung out in biker bars. he knew a lot of criminal elements. and eventually he took that talent and worked for a while in undercover drug investigation. >> dennis gaede becomes a snitch? >> well, he wouldn't want you to call it that, but, essentially, yes. >> barton says gaede managed to anger both the police he was working for and the bike gang he was informing against. at one point he was charged with a felony for helping an inmate to escape from jail. >> he went to canada so he wouldn't have to face the music on that. he lived as himself for who years but then some of the bikers that he had ratted on
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found out where he was. >> and that's when dennis gaede decided to disappear by hiding behind the identities of other people. using the name of a young boy who died, she says gaede went to college, did some accounting work, even got engaged and had a son. then, she says, he made the mistake of applying for a student loan. >> he went into the loan office and they typed in his i.d. number, canadian social security number. and the loan officer said, hey, wait a second, you're dead. >> gaede serves some time in a canadian jail for identity theft and told a local television reporter, he was afraid of the police and the bikers back in the united states. >> they said they were going to set me on fire, they were going to burn my house down with me in and make sure i was on fire too. >> but when gaede was deported back to the u.s., somehow none of his worse fears came true. not only did no one try to kill
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him, he managed to start a new life for himself in milwaukee using his real name. his undercover days were over. he hung out his shingle as an accountant and tax preparer. it was here in this building that gaede opened his accounting office that the lives of dennis gaede and timothy wicks became en29ed. >> timothy wicks needed help doing his taxes. >> tim wicks gave gaede access to all of his personal and financial information. everything gaede might need to steal tim wicks' identity. >> as time went on they realized that they were both very interested in drumming and were both drummers. and so that is kind of what cemented the relationship and made them friends. >> at about the same time, dennis gaede made another friend, diane fruge, a single mother of two where she managed the building where he ran the accounting business. what's your first impression of dennis gaede? >> he was huge.
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>> a big guy? >> yes, yes. i was just amazed at the size of him. but then after i met him and i started talking to him, he was like so funny. i mean he just -- he could make anybody laugh. you know, he seemed to just see the jolly, jolly, friendly guy. >> a few months later he proposed. >> it wasn't like one of those "go down on one knee" proposal-type things. it was kind of a casual talk, you know, why don't we get married. and my daughter said, well, mom, i'll put it to you this way this is the first man that you ever dated that i liked. my son was head over heels, he was calling him daddy dennis and everything. >> but for fruge, the honeymoon wouldn't last long. you were expected that white picket fence life. >> mm-hmm. >> dennis gaede's past life caught up with him and diane fruge learned her new husband was an ex-con, wanted on a felony charge. just months into their marriage, gaede was arrested for aiding in
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a prisoner escape years earlier and skipping town before sentencing. >> he had, like, all of these excuses how all of these other people set him up. he would just tell me he wasn't guilty and he said there's no way a jury's going to find me guilty. >> and did you believe him? >> yes. >> why? >> because this the man i thought i was going to spend the rest of my life with and i trusted him. >> how convincing a guy is dennis gaede? >> i would say he could talk the paint off that wall, that's how good he is. >> but gaede couldn't convince the jury. he was convicted. but incredibly, even though he was a known flight risk, gaede was once again allowed to go free until his sentencing. >> he said, i'm not going back to prison. he said, we're going to move to fargo. and that's when i knew i was in trouble, but i was too afraid to say anything to anyone. >> so diane fruge agreed to go
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on the run with her new husband, dennis gaede. she arranged to leave her teenage daughter with her ex-husband, the daughter's biological father, and take 3-year-old joshua, who had a different dad, with her to fargo. >> she is not supposed to leave the state with her little boy without working things out with joshua's father ahead of time, but for a while there, she was bringing him back for his visitation from north dakota, without anybody knowing they were in north dakota. >> but dennis gaede went to even greater lengths to cover his tracks. using his old m.o., gaede took the information he'd gotten from timothy wicks while doing his taxes and simply became timothy wicks. >> somehow he found out his mother's maiden name and all of the answers to those security questions that they use to make sure it's you. and so he went to motor vehicles in north dakota, got his driver's license with his picture on it and tim wicks' name on it. >> living as timothy wicks, gaede bought this house outside fargo on front street in tiny gardner, north dakota.
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gaede. >> it was peaceful. it was kind of the country living that i always dreamed of. >> you had the farmhouse. he got a job? >> i was just enjoying it because i was being susie homemaker. coming up -- that vision of domestic bliss on front street was about to morph into a bizarre cross-country run for their lives. >> finally one day i broke down and cried and said i can't live in this camper any longer. i can't take this.
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and cried and said i can't live
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hey there, everyone. msnbc now. i'll alex witt. two of the remaining candidates are in the state. mitt romney and newt gingrich are hopping from event to event. ron paul traveled to maine while rick santorum returned home to pennsylvania. the first parade in recognition of the end of the iraq war and the soldiers coming home to a
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parade organized by two men. i'm alex witt with. more news in an hour. timothy wicks, a 48-year-old house painter and part-time drummer left mill walk ney 2001 telling friends he was headed to canada for a full-time nighttime gig. when nobody heard from wicks police opened a missing persons case. soon they discovered another man was living under timothy wicks' name in fargo, north dakota and that man was wanted for embezzlement. the problem is police couldn't find him either. back in wisconsin, detective ben schoonover had a hunch. the fargo embezzler pretending
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to be tim wicks is really dennis gaede. a search of wicks' apartment turns up a tax return that is signed at the bottom by the preparer, dennis gaede. >> my gut is telling me that tim is dead, but we can't prove it, we don't have a body, we don't know. >> then the police tell it, wrapped out the details of a grisly discovery on the side of the road. on the upper michigan side, the detective had a feeling. gene maxwell and jeff paridon, who knew dennis gaede as tim wicks, mentioned that he said his family had a cabin up there. >> and the generalities of the body description met the very general description and size of timothy wicks. >> of course, lots of people can match that description. plus, the head which was found on the wisconsin side of the river with a single bullet hole in it was badly decomposed. >> we need dental records. and now we have to figure out who timothy wicks' dentist was. and then one of our officer s remembers seeing an appointment card in the apartment. so they go back to the apartment. on the refrigerator was a dental reminder appointment card. >> a lucky break?
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>> very lucky. very lucky. compared to the victim's teeth. >> it was a match. that's timothy wicks' head, and dna testing between the head and torso matched him. >> but you're still not sure exactly what happened? >> no. >> why not? >> here we have a nice guy, and he was a victim at the hands of a very bad person. >> with the positive i.d. of timothy wicks, detective schoonover made an urgent call to break the news to fargo detective tammy lynx who was about to execute a search warrant at gaede's house. in the embezzlement case. >> this goes from a white collar crime to cold-blooded murder. >> yes. >> this is as cold-blooded as it gets. >> i was told that when the body was found both the head and hands had been removed from the body. >> what does that tell you about
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the person you're dealing with? >> cold. sick. and trying to keep the fact that the victim might be identified. >> investigators moved in on the house, but gaede was gone. police took these photos inside. they also tracked the real timothy wicks' credit card use and also discovered the credit card was used here to rent a truck. >> u-haul was ultimately returned with over 1,700 miles having been put on it. >> you do the math, between north dakota and the upper peninsula of michigan, where the body was found, and how does that equation work out? >> it's pretty consistent with that trip. >> and there's more. wicks' credit card was also used here to buy burlap bags, gloves, and an axe like these. the purchase all caught on a store security camera. that's dennis gaede and diane fruge with her son at the store. >> i believe that by the time
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that purchase was made, tim wicks was dead. >> in milwaukee, the case was beginning to receive media attention. descriptions of gaede and fruge broadcast, which helped detective schoonover uncovers even more leads. such as what happened to the car tim wicks drove to fargo. >> and so we called up the dealership where he bought it, and when we talked to them they said, we have the car here. okay. what happened? he said that a couple of days ago a lady came in to the teal areship, gave the keys to the car to a salesman and said my husband can't make the payments anymore and gives him the keys, hops in the car and takes off. >> he was also chasing a money trail. after news broke of tim wicks' death his bank called to report unusual transactions. >> we found out that someone called and identified himself as timothy wicks and went to their
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24-hour phone service and cashed out a cd and had it deposited into a savings account. >> a total of $17,000 was taken, and gaede was long gone. but police say gaede kept and he, fruge, and her son drove from state to state, campground to campground. by staying at campgrounds one night each, they were able to stay one step ahead of the law for four more weeks. >> finally one day i broke down and cried and i said i can't live in this camper any longer. i can't take this. this isn't fair to my 3-year-old. he should be outside playing. no, he doesn't deserve this. i said, i'm going crazy. i said let's just go turn ourselves in. >> that wasn't going to happen. but fruge was able to convince gaede to spend an extra night at this campground in lincoln, nebraska, where once again they used wicks' credit card, this time to buy groceries at this store.
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>> we just bought like $200 worth of groceries. all of a sudden i see a squad car. i said, dennis, i think we're going down. >> she was right. police throughout the midwest had been on the lookout for a very large balding man driving a camper and using tim wicks' credit cards. a warrant was out for gaede's arrest at this time for embezzlement. police also wanted to question him on the disappearance of timothy wicks. >> the phone rings. police on the phone. what do they tell you? >> he let me know that we got dennis, we've got diane and we've got joshua, her son. they got them in custody and no one was hurt that. was very good news. coming up -- three years after tim wicks goes missing, diane fruge breaks her silence. >> he told me that he gets tim up to canada, that no one will ever miss him. [ male announcer ] feeling like a shadow of your former self? c'mon, michael! get in the game!
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a mild-mannered musician from milwaukee is found murdered and dismembered in early 2002, and three years after the murder, police still don't have enough evidence to charge anyone until someone who knew more than she let on got a sudden attack of conscience. >> family of tim wicks deserves justice, and i want my children to know that their mom did the right thing. >> when diane fruge met dennis gaede, he was a storefront accountant in the building she managed. after a three-month courtship, they were married. >> i just wanted to be comfortable and raise a family. i thought it was the first day of my new life. >> but before long, gaede's
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longstanding legal troubles caught up with him. and he told her they were going to have to leave wisconsin and start a new life in fargo, north dakota. >> at that time i didn't know the seriousness of all the trouble dennis was in. >> once here in fargo, gaede hid his identity by using the name of his trusty milwaukee friend, timothy wicks. fruge says she wanted her new life so much, she went along with it, pretending to be wicks' wife, even called her husband "tim" in public. but fruge insists her deal with the devil went way beyond anything she ever bargained for. >> did you have anything to do with it murder of timothy wicks? >> no, sir. >> any of the planning for it? >> no, sir. >> fruge says the whole tragic story began when timothy wicks called dennis gaede a man wicks thought was a good friend. >> during that conversation, tim who told dennis about -- he found out someone was
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fraudulently using a credit card or some kind of credit line, and that's when dennis panicked. >> because dennis was the man who was doing it. >> right. >> but tim didn't know yet? >> correct. >> what was the look on dennis' face? >> just kind of pale and, um, um, um, started stuttering. >> but he composed himself and made wicks an intriguing offer. >> dennis had made arrangements telling tim that he was going to get him this gig playing music up in canada, and he told me that if he gets tim up to canada, that no one will ever miss him, and i guess he just wanted him out of the country. >> did you know that it was not a real gig? >> i knew dennis couldn't get into canada because he was deported.
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i didn't know how he planned to get tim up there. >> a few months later, as jeff paridon and gene maxwell from compressed air technologies were beginning to ask questions of embezzlement of the business, she says gaede called wicks to finalize the phony music gig, telling him to come to north dakota so they could drive to canada together. during wicks' first day at their house, fruge said he painted their staircase, plays with her son joshua, and seemed excited about the upcoming job. it was during the evening of his second day that everything changed. >> about 8:00 or 9:00 i gave joshy a bath and took him upstairs, and dennis and tim were like drinking and partying and stuff downstairs, and me and josh went to bed. >> and are they hitting it off like old friends? >> oh, yeah, drinking, smoking pot. >> what's the next thing you remember? >> dennis waking me up in a panic.
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i couldn't figure out what -- what was happening because, you know, i was just coming out of a sleep, and didn't hear anything. he was like, come downstairs. and we went downstairs, and tim's lying on the kitchen floor. there was no signs of blood or anything. i said, what did you do? party him out? i thought he passed out. he was, like, snoring. and he said, "no, i shot him." >> "i shot him"? >> "i shot him." i said, what do you mean, you shot him? he's snoring. he's like, i shot him. and then dennis put a bag over his head until he stopped breathing. >> she said it was a plastic garbage bag, and she saw it all. >> i don't know if i was more panicked or more sick, but i was
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very, very sick to my stomach. i -- i just -- i thought, what am i supposed to do? now tim was supposedly my husband, bought this house, but yet there's a dead tim wicks on my kitchen floor. how am i supposed to explain this to the police? i was just in shock, i think. >> what do you do now? >> well, dennis really started getting crazy, like just with his pacing and stuff. and i said, don't freak out on me now, there's a dead man on my kitchen floor, you know? so then he went out and he got the paint tarps, told me to help him lift him on to the tarp and drag him down the stairs. i helped him out the door, but once the tarp was on the snow, he just pulled it into the barn. >> by now there was blood in the kitchen, fruge cleaned it up with bleach, all the while worrying her son would wake up. the next day, she says gaede
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rented a backhoe hoping to bury wicks on the property but the ground was too frozen so he went to plan b. >> he planned to take him to his cottage in michigan, and he said there was some kind of cement sewer-type thing he could drop him into and nobody would ever find him. >> and what happens with that plan? >> i don't think he could find where he wanted to put him because there was too much snow at that time. and then that's when he decided to dismember him. the only thing that he could think of was to take off his head and his hands so that dental records or fingerprints wouldn't identify the torso, and
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he took all his clothes off, and you could just hear bang, bang, bang. seemed like it was never going to stop. >> so as fruge and her son sat in the front of the truck, she turned up the radio, loud. what's going through your mind at this point? >> such a feeling of fear and panic that i've never felt before in my life. >> just a couple days after the murder, she says they rented a truck and drove endlessly through wisconsin and michigan until gaede suddenly stopped here and asked her to help him dump the body just over the guardrail. she says gaede was on his own when he got rid of the head and hands. did you have any sympathy, any feelings for timothy wicks? i've heard, i'm worried i'm going to get caught, i'm in trouble, i'm scared. what about the man who was -- who was dead on the floor? >> i don't know what i could have done at that time. maybe i could have made a difference, maybe not.
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i don't know. when you're in a situation like that, you just -- you don't think clearly. >> right after tim wicks was killed, when your husband goes to get the backhoe to bury the body, you could have grabbed your son and left then. why not? >> where was i going to go? >> back to milwaukee, back to your mom. >> i think i was just in a state of shock then. i just closed up. i totally clammed up. >> though dennis gaede went to prison for embezzlement and diane fruge spent six months in jail for violating her child custody order, it took almost five years for anyone to be charged with timothy wicks' murder. coming up -- dennis gaede goes on trial. [ jody ] four course feast. man it's great. the guests love it. [ male announcer ] red lobster's four course seafood feast is back. get soup, salad, cheddar bay biscuits, dessert and choose one of 7 entrees. four courses for only $15. offer ends soon. i'm jody gonzalez, red lobster manager and i sea food differently.
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almost three years after timothy wicks' disappearance, diane fruge, also called diana,
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came forward to give heyitness happened on december 28, 2001. >> did you ask him why he did it? >> because we were going to lose everything, he was afraid they were going to track him. >> she also told police dennis gaede shot timothy wicks in the head suffocated him, and dismembers him in the back of a u-haul while she and her young son sat in the front seat. together, they dumped the body off the side of the road near the border of michigan and wisconsin. >> so you dumped it out by yourself? >> no. no. it was heavy. i just helped him lift the box and push him, that's it. i went and jumped back in the truck. >> gaede later disposed of wicks' head and hands alone. when fruge came forward, gaede was serving out of a four-year sentence for embezzling from
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compressed air technologies and scheduled to be released. when we spoke to the prosecutor and lieutenant during that time, no one had been charged with the murder. >> a lot of evidence has been gathered. it seems clear, from looking at evidence that dennis gaede had motive because he stole wicks' identity, that he had the opportunity, because he got wicks to his house, and that his wife says she saw him do it and for the wicks' family it's hard to understand why no one's been charged. >> i can understand that that's difficult for the wicks family and it's our every intention to pursue justice wherever that justice leads us. >> initially, part of the problem developing a case against gaede was not enough physical evidence linked him to the crime. fruge and gaede's cleanup
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efforts in the u-haul and the kitchen left the police struggling to find concrete, physical evidence of the murder. >> when you're dealing with that many states, that many miles, that many witnesses to talk to, it take is along time. >> figuring out who actually did it became more complicated because fruge agreed to take the fall. >> dennis talked me into writing a letter saying that i killed timothy wicks in self-defense, because he tried to rape me. >> did you sign the letter? >> yes. >> is that true? >> no. >> fruge later said she agreed to that plan out of love for gaede and never had anything to do with timothy wicks' murder. but while serving more than six months in jail interfering with child custody laws she told a public defender she committed the murder in self-defense. >> even after he was in custody and she had gone to jail, she bought into his story for a while? >> you know if she did it it was self-defense, she probably
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wouldn't get convicted, even if she did. she's been out within eight years and they could pick up their happy life together. >> police are skeptical of her story of self-defense and in the police video dennis gaede is asked about diane's confession. >> we have a relationship where i would never let her take the blame for something i did and she would never let me take the blame for something she did. and she knew damn well i would be the target of this because of the circumstances. do you think dennis was playing diane from day one or was he playing her? >> he was emphatic he dead love her and he wants best for her. she, too, is convinced he did love her. >> despite the lack of enough dna evidence the prosecution felt they could provide enough circumstantial evidence like bank statements, receipts,
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photographs proof of address that would convince a jury gaede was responsible for the murder. he planned to prove gaede new timothy wicks and lived in cass county, north dakota at the time and had stolen his identity which dennis gaede says wicks gave to him so he could start a new life. >> are you telling me that timothy wicks gave you his i.d. to disappear, is that what you're tell me? >> is that what you're telling me. >> i didn't steel that i didn't. >> timothy gave it to you? >> yes. >> fruge's testimony was key. because authorities were able to confirm what she said happened during that night in 2001 and the days that followed, fruge was prosecuted for the cover-up. april 3, 2006, dennis gaede was put on trial. >> how do you plead? >> not guilty. >> if the husband tells the wife i shot this guy, can she testify about that? >> in our state, you may have problems getting communication between the two of them in. >> but she was able to testify about what she saw. >> what did you do on friday the 22th?
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convicting gaede wouldn't be easy since fruge told me she committed the murder. with fruge changing her story, her involvement and helping gaede dispose of wicks' body, and a lack of physical evidence proving gaede murdered wicks the defense's strategy was straightforward. they would argue the prosecution had no solid evidence and that fruge could not be trusted. the trial lasted five days, and it took just four hours for the jury to reach its verdict. >> dennis james gaede, guilty. >> they found dennis gaede guilty of intentionally killing timothy wicks and the judge sentenced him to life, without parole. premeditated murder, cold and calculated as one will ever find. >> gaede never spoke during his trial except for this -- during his sentencing, he clearly showed a change of heart when it came to his now-ex-wife. >> i just fell in love with the
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wrong person and two men are paying for it, tim wicks and me. that demon, diana fruge is responsible ibl for the murder of timothy wicks. >> has diana cut a deal to keep herself out of prison? >> she has not. in fact, after diana got arrested that day at the campground, she was charged with interfering with child custody, and was sentenced to six months in jail and ten years on probation for taking joshua out of the state without conferring with his father. and she is a convicted felon now. however, when she decided to come forward and tell this story, she told it without any kind of immunity, without any plea deal in place, without even a lawyer. >> gaede is currently serving time in wisconsin for the charges he originally fled, helping to felon escape from
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prison. he served time for embezzlement charges. when his current sentence is complete he will serve out a life sentence for the murder of timothy wicks. according to the prosecution in cass county, diane fruge was not prosecuted for the coverup and would not be. however, other jurisdiction could prosecute diane for a crime occurring within their borders. in 2007, gaede appealed the court's decision for the murder of timothy wicks but it was denied. as for timothy wicks' longtime friends and family, they're still haunted by the violent way their gentle friend died. >> you rehash this whole case from beginning to end, it's terrible. it's a travesty, such a great person to have their life ended like this.

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